In my first book, Gutbliss, I wrote about stool nirvana being “a deep brown color that looks like melted chocolate”. But if you’re trying to reverse damage to your microbiome – the trillions of bacteria that call our bodies’ home – you should actually be aiming for green stool. Not a glowing radioactive green, but enough to leave a grassy tint on the toilet paper. How do you achieve this advanced level of stool nirvana? By eating tons of the most underrepresented food in the American diet, which also happens to be the preferred food of healthy gut bacteria: green vegetables. And by tons I’m not referring to a little spinach in your omelet and a side salad with dinner. To grow a good gut garden that can train your immune system; provide micronutrients for healthy hair and skin; synthesize vitamins; detoxify compounds; digest food; turn genes on and off; keep you in a good mood by making sure your serotonin levels are high; and do all the other things gut bacteria do – we need to get deliberate about our veggies.

It’s no easy feat – leafy greens represent less than 7% of the daily intake for most Americans – but they’re well worth the effort in terms of results: a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, not to mention magnificent logs that pass effortlessly into the bowl, with a signature scent that’s more freshly mown lawn than the usual rotten eggs.

So how do I turn my poo from brown to green? A smoothie in the morning is a great way to start the day ahead, rather than behind. I put four greens in mine: spinach, kale, celery and parsley, plus a green apple, lemon and some fresh ginger for flavor, and lots of ice and water. Hummus with chopped up zucchini, string beans and broccoli, or a big bowl of veggie soup for lunch, and then two steamed veggies plus a salad with whatever else I’m having for dinner usually gets me to the finish line with a good green tinge.

Plant powered stools really are the ultimate detox – after a day of eating like this, not only is my gut happy – the rest of me feels pretty good too!

By: Robynne Chutkan, MD, FASGE